The Unfettered Critic – June 2015


That’s the date we arrived in Jacksonville. Not being numerologists, we had no idea of how auspicious a day it would prove to be. Our new house, located near the top of a (steep) hill, offered a great view. Our dogs approved of the yard. The neighbors, even after learning we’d been Californians, were friendly. In fact, the entire relocation had flowed so smoothly that we heard music in the air.


Our realtor had mentioned that Jacksonville was home to an outdoor music venue. Cool, we’d responded. Maybe we’d check it out sometime.

And then it slipped our minds…

…Until we heard the music, drifting in on a warm summer breeze. It sounded like a band doing a sound check. Then a vocalist joined in. “Sounds like Bonnie Raitt,” we thought. “Hey—It IS Bonnie Raitt!”

Thus were we introduced to the incredible Britt Festival.

Last month we highlighted some of the artists we’re looking forward to hearing this season, but there’s so much great entertainment planned that we ran out of space. Therefore:

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, coming July 2. You may have heard this “swing revival” band’s brand of l940 and ‘50s dance music during the 1999 Super Bowl XXXIII halftime show. Or seen them sharing the stage with The Los Angeles Philharmonic or the San Francisco Symphony. When they deliver songs from their latest album, “The Music of Cab Calloway,” we suspect you’ll swing along.

Boz Scaggs, coming July 6. We first learned Scaggs name when he played lead guitar with the Steve Miller Band. He later revealed himself as a powerful vocalist on hits like “Lido Shuffle,” “Lowdown,” and the ballad “Look What You’ve Done to Me.” Smooth rock, smooth ballads. That’s okay by us.

Vince Gill, coming August 30. What can we say about a Country Music Hall of Famer with twenty Grammy Awards? Mark Knopfler once asked Gill to join Dire Straits, but Gill was too busy with other bands. He first appeared in the country rock group “Pure Prairie League,” later played in bluegrass bands with Ricky Skaggs, and toured with Rodney Crowell. A member of the Grand Ole Opry since age 34, Gill’s own hits include “When I Call Your Name,” “The Next Big Thing,” and the instrumental “Cluster Pluck.” When you hear somebody say, “A musician’s musician,” it’s likely they’re talking about Vince Gill.

The Gipsy Kings, coming August 31. These acoustic guitarists started playing Spanish music in their native France in the 1970s. Their sound has been dubbed, “Spanish flamenco and Romani rhapsody meet salsa funk.” In other words, it’s rhythmic. Very rhythmic. Their rendition of “Hotel California” was featured in The Big Lebowski, and their version of “You’ve Got a Friend In Me” in Toy Story 3. Listen for them to play all their hits, including the iconic “Bomboleo,” right here.

Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo, coming September 4. Pat Benatar was the first female artist to appear on the fledgling MTV. She sang “You Better Run.” Since then, her hits have included “Hit Me With Your Best Shot, “Love is a Battlefield,” “Heartbreaker,” and lots more. Guitarist Neil Giraldo (they’ve been married since 1984) uses his spare time to perform with artists like Rick Springfield and Kenny Loggins. At Britt, he’ll perform with her, for us.

Brandi Carlile, coming September 13. Yes, she’s been here before. If you haven’t seen her yet, do so now. Enough said.

We tried to get tickets to that Bonnie Raitt show back in ’08, but it already was sold out. If only we’d known then what we know now.

Paula and Terry each have long impressive-sounding resumes implying that they are battle-scarred veterans of life within the Hollywood studios. They’re now happily relaxed into Jacksonville.